Innovative Strategy for Combating ImmunosenescenceApril 2011
By Judy Colson
Other Antibacterial Effects
Of course, waning immunity resulting from immunosenescence leaves us vulnerable to a wide variety of bacterial infections outside of the GI tract as well. Hyperimmune egg extracts are showing promise in many such infections.
Patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) are especially at risk for colonization of their lungs with Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA), an organism that thrives in their overly-viscous mucous secretions. PA infection is in fact the major cause of death and disability in cystic fibrosis patients.52 But among cystic fibrosis patients who gargled with an hyperimmune egg preparation from hens immunized against PA, none became chronically colonized with the organism, while 24% of control subjects did.52
Hyperimmune egg has also proven effective for other, less serious but more common respiratory tract infections. There was a dramatic reduction in symptoms among people with both acute and chronic bacterial sore throat when they used a hyperimmune egg-containing throat spray, compared with placebo-treated subjects.53
Exercise and Fitness
Immunosenescence threatens muscle mass, cardiac function, and overall fitness, the result of increased circulation of inflammatory cytokines and increased susceptibility to infection.54 At the same time, moderate exercise is known to be beneficial to older adults,55 but brings with it some risk of muscle injury and even increased inflammation. A group of studies from the Human Performance Laboratory at the College of Charleston, SC, has revealed that hyperimmune egg supplements may hasten recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage. The supplements increase production of growth hormone, a vital mediator of tissue maintenance and repair.56 Supplemented subjects saw an increase in their bench press strength and endurance, decreased muscle soreness, and enhanced muscle repair during recovery.57 At the same time the supplemented subjects had a decrease in their heart rate and increase in their peak power during aerobic workouts.58
People Living with HIV/AIDS
In many ways, infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) mimics accelerated immunosenescence with its diminished immunity and increased inflammation.59 A study of people living with HIV/AIDS demonstrated remarkable benefits from consumption of hyperimmune egg extract.60 Supplemented subjects saw overall improvement in their quality of life, including marked reductions in anorexia, abdominal pain, diarrhea, short-term memory loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, and poor sleep. Pain and difficulty breathing were reduced as well, and 100% of subjects experienced significant weight gain by the end of the 8-week study. Markers of inflammation fell significantly, and the all-important CD4 lymphocyte count, an indicator of immune function, improved in 20% of patients.
This is a tremendously important finding, given the profound immune suppression and wasting that is typically seen in HIV/AIDS and the exorbitant expense of standard treatment. The possibility that an inexpensive and readily distributed egg extract could relieve so much suffering offers an important breakthrough.
Supporting Immune Health in Cancer Patients
Immunosenescence is a significant factor in increasing our risk for cancer, as the immune system’s normally high level of surveillance for potential malignancies tapers off. At the same time, cancer, like HIV/AIDS, brings with it a kind of accelerated immunosenescence, as cancer cells invade and destabilize their unfortunate hosts. Chemotherapy typically exacerbates the situation in most cancers, leaving cancer patients even more vulnerable to infection. The GI tract in particular takes a hard hit from both cancer and chemotherapy, both of which increase intestinal permeability and allow dangerous infections to enter the body.61
Astonishingly, orally administered antibodies of various kinds are showing real promise in ameliorating the effects both of cancer and of chemotherapy on the GI tract.62 A mixture of human IgA and IgG antibodies, given orally to bone marrow transplant patients, prevented the dangerous increase in intestinal permeability that was seen in placebo patients.63 And animal-derived immunoglobulins (similar to the biologically active proteins in hyperimmune egg extracts) were able to reduce fungal colonization when given orally to bone marrow transplant recipients.64 These studies validate the concept of using hyperimmune egg to provide strong GI immunity support in dangerously immune-suppressed cancer patients, and point the way to future studies with even more dramatic results.
We live in a hostile world, surrounded by an environment filled with germs and toxins that can harm us acutely or cause us chronic pain and misery. As we age, immunosenescence weakens our immune system, rendering us vulnerable not only to dangerous infections, but also to cancers and even to autoimmune and other inflammatory conditions. Biomedical chemistry and pharmaceutical approaches often fail to rectify the situation, and indeed can exacerbate our risks (as in the case of excessive antibiotic prescribing, which leads to newly dangerous organisms).
The humble hen’s egg, however, is a natural repository for protective elements that can promote human health. Hens that have been immunized against human disease-causing organisms lay eggs enriched with substances that have the potential to improve human health, both in the gastrointestinal tract and in other parts of the body. Diseases such as gastrointestinal and other infections, as well as those caused by excessive inflammation, are all legitimate targets of hyperimmune egg supplementation. Moreover, hyperimmune egg supplements can improve immunity in people living with HIV/AIDS and even show potential for providing strong immunity support in cancer victims. There’s no question: hyperimmune eggs offer a unique approach to protecting health and longevity.
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